What is the Quokka?

Meet Australia’s friendliest animal, the Quokka. This adorable marsupial in the macropod family is most commonly found on the magical Rottnest Island. This island is a short ferry ride from Fremantle near Perth. Quokkas are the smallest of the wallaby family and in many opinions the cutest! The population of Quokkas on the island is roughly 10,000 animals. A very small population of them live near Northcliffe on the mainland. However, they are sadly listed as vulnerable due to the threat of predators such as foxes and cats on the mainland. However, on the island, the only predator is snakes which is why the population thrives.

They have round bodies that are roughly 40 - 54 cm in length. They are covered in coarse brown-greyish fur. With small rounded ears and a black nose, they have previously been mistaken for a large rats. When a dutch visitor arrived at the island in 1696 he named the island Rattennest (dutch for Rat Nest) because he thought it was overrun with rats. At the time of colonisation, the quokkas were widespread throughout South West of Western Australia and the islands. Through the introduction of predators by the colonisers, the distribution was reduced by 50% by 1992.

The population that lives on Rottnest Island have become very accustomed to humans. So friendly that the Quokka selfie has become an online sensation. Quokkas are herbivores and consume a variety of shrubs and grasses. They mainly feed at night and are nocturnal. Quokka can even store fat in their tails to help provide them energy to survive. Rottnest Island is very dry and is surrounded by salt water. Quokka can survive with very little fresh water and can even last one month without a drink.

Quokkas are naturally curious and trusting and may approach humans. It might seem like common sense but quokkas should not be touched or eat human food. The animals that live closest to the human settlement on Rottnest have become accustomed to scavenging for food. This junk food can be dangerous to them and worsens their health. If you do encounter a Quokka please do not feed them.